Orchard Lea Federation – Science
At Orchard Lea Federation, we aim to provide a practical science curriculum that promotes and encourages curiosity and interest about our world including both living and non-living things all around us. We achieve this by meeting the National Curriculum objectives through teaching scientific concepts to support children’s knowledge and understanding, which enables the children to achieve a deeper level of working scientifically within each of the topics. This knowledge and understanding continues to be fostered in the proceeding lessons.
We create opportunities for all of our children to behave as scientists would in real life, reflecting a problem solving approach to answering questions based on memorable and meaningful real-life contexts and that are child-led. This is achieved in lessons by teachers posing stimulating and challenging STEM questions that can be resolved by working scientifically, and that encourage critical thinking – observing, analysing, reasoning and problem solving. Before moving onto a new scientific concept, teachers use formative assessment so that future lessons can be adapted to ensure that all children are accessing the learning and are able to apply the ideas. As children progress through the federation, they build on their skills in working scientifically, as well as on their scientific knowledge, developing greater independence in planning and carrying out fair and comparative tests to answer a range of scientific questions.
In Early Years, children engage with science through discovery and hands on experience to aspire to a solid foundation of curiosity. In Key Stage 1, they build on that foundation following Hampshire Key Ideas, securing more structure in their scientific enquiry by posing a question, predicting an outcome, designing a task and discussing the results. Through Key Stage 2, children will engage with more varied equipment necessitating a higher degree of accuracy (in line with mathematical skills), care and control in their investigations. Working as ‘safe scientists’ is encouraged as they build up their independence and consider the implications of safety when carrying out experiments both in the classrooms and across the school grounds. As children progress to Upper Key Stage 2, they will further develop independence in terms of accuracy, complexity and the relationship between variables, and are able to refer to prior knowledge to support their hypotheses.
Children work collaboratively in mixed attainment groups to develop their own investigations using creative approaches based on scientific concepts. Our curriculum takes the existing experiences of our learners into account ensuring that learning is accessible for all. Children are challenged and aspire to solve questions by predicting what their investigation outcomes might be, and by enquiring as to what would change if they carried out the investigation differently and thus drawing conclusions from their results.
It is our goal that children understand the world that they live in and how our world has developed and continues to develop, and to inspire in them a lifelong sense of wonder Our science lessons support and nurture each child’s cultural capital, and we want our children to leave Orchard Lea Federation as confident scientists, who are capable of carrying out a fair test using a scientific approach to reach their own conclusions based on a solid understanding of the world around us.
By the time our pupils leave us as aspiring scientists, we aim to ensure that all pupils:
- Have a secure understanding of key scientific facts as presented within the Hampshire Key Ideas.
- Answer a scientific question or enquiry through planning a fair test and executing with growing degrees of accuracy.
- Can use a range of scientific equipment to help answer a questions, and take measurements with ever increasing accuracy.
- Can question the results of enquiries; evaluate the results of an enquiry and decide on appropriate adaptations; and create their own scientific questions to answer.
HIAS Science Co-ordinators Network Meeting
HIAS document – The Science National Curriculum: The Hampshire model for what should be learned and how to assess it.
HIAS document – Tackling Educational Disadvantage: Building Blocks for Excellence.
Science at Orchard Lea Federation aims to give all children a strong understanding of the world around them, as well as acquiring the key skills and knowledge to help them think and work scientifically. Our science curriculum from year one to year six is based on the Hampshire key ideas for science. These are organised into learning journeys for each area of science and are organised progressively to ensure children revisit key ideas (scientific knowledge and concepts), deepening and developing their understanding of these as they progress through the school. Our whole school approach to the teaching and learning of science involves the following:
The acquisition of key scientific knowledge is an integral part of our science lessons. Each unit follows a logical progression of knowledge blocks, allowing the children to make effective links within an area of science as well as build links between concepts. The learning journeys in science are based upon HIAS ‘key ideas’. In addition to this, the key ideas allow for clear understanding for both the staff and children about what the important learning within each area of science/lesson is. Key scientific knowledge, concepts and vocabulary are introduced through direct teaching.
The lessons follow a 3-step structure to ensure consistency across the school:
- Retrieval – Discussing and recapping knowledge from previous lessons and units.
- Teach – Learning the new concept/idea and seeing it in action (explicit teaching of disciplinary skills).
- Apply – Challenging the children to question the idea and apply skills independently through enquiry.
In Year R, Science is taught through the “Understanding the World” part of the Early Years, Foundation Stage curriculum. At Orchard Lea, much of our Science learning at this stage takes place in the Outdoor Classroom and extended school grounds. Children are encouraged to observe their environment closely, noticing and describing changes in animals, plants, the seasons, the weather and natural phenomena linked to their ongoing learning throughout the year.
The teaching of Science across Orchard Lea Federation has an underpinning focus on the working scientifically elements of scientific learning; looking to challenge the ideas of children and to encourage the development of competent scientists across KS2. The progression of skills for working scientifically are developed through the year groups and scientific enquiry skills are of key importance within lessons. Most lessons are enquiry based, providing children with authentic experiences, context and relevance for the key idea they have been learning. This allows children to make cross-curricular links and see how science relates to the world around them.
Working Scientifically (disciplinary) skills are embedded into all lessons to ensure these skills are being developed throughout the children’s school career. They are expertly modelled by the teacher and are then independently practiced during scientific enquiries and practical work. Teachers demonstrate how to use scientific equipment, and the various Working Scientifically skills, in order to embed scientific understanding. Teachers also find opportunities to develop children’s understanding of their surroundings by accessing outdoor learning and longitudinal studies.
Children experience and investigate scientific phenomena in a range of contexts, to ensure a continually evolving knowledge and understanding of the world around them. They develop confidence in planning investigations using the planning proforma below, which includes consideration of variables and risk assessment. Children record and present their findings in a variety of ways including with the use of ICT. They begin to draw reasoned conclusions about what they notice and develop independent questioning of their findings. Where needed, they will test further and modify their experiments.
Our strategy is to enable all children to be catered for through adapted planning suited to their abilities. Our school has a clear focus on the development of language and allowing children to make links and embed key scientific vocabulary. We use working walls, visual prompts and pre-teach some vocabulary to enable children to develop a deeper understanding and apply it in different contexts. This also supports children to make links and develop their speaking and listening skills as well as their writing across the curriculum. Where necessary, Materials will be differentiated appropriately for SEND pupils and alternative methods of recording, including verbal response, will be available to prevent literacy issues becoming a barrier to scientific learning. Appropriate enrichment tasks will also be available to extend understanding of our more able pupils. Practical work is conducted in mixed ability groupings to allow all children to engage in rich discussions.